There are many ways to start a family, and there’s no one way that is better than another. While every prospective parent has their own reasons for choosing to adopt a child, it all comes down to a common thread: it’s a way to build a family. While the reasons to adopt a child are many, a common one behind many couples’ decision to adopt is infertility struggles.
In the case of single parents, it is simply being ready to start a family. Adoption provides those hoping to be parents the opportunity to experience parenthood and raise a child they wouldn’t have otherwise. It can be a means to build strong, meaningful relationships in life and benefit a child with the much-needed stability of a loving home and family. Adoption – the legal transfer of all responsibility for a child from biological parents to adoptive parents, including legal status as a family member – usually involves a long, thoughtful process to assess a couple’s suitability to raise a child. It also requires deep, personal commitment and self-knowledge before beginning the process.
Generally, the first question to consider is whether you meet the specific legal requirements to adopt in a given jurisdiction – this involves a home study by authorities. Next, examine whether you have the financial stability to provide for a child, are able to afford the adoption process itself, are ready for the emotional rollercoaster of being a parent, and have the utmost clarity on your reasons for bringing a child into your home. Here are the top things to know if you’re looking to adopt in the UAE.
What You Need to Know
First things first: adoption – in the modern sense and how it is understood in the West – is not legal in the UAE as it does not exist as a concept in the local legal system, which follows Sharia law when it comes to family matters. Under these laws, adoption is not strictly forbidden (haram) in Islam, but it is forbidden to change a child’s name and parentage on the grounds that it interferes with maintaining genealogical records, inheritance, and gender segregation rules as the child reaches maturity.
“Adoption in the UAE under UAE law is not allowed,” says Diana Hamade, founder and managing partner at Diana Hamade Attorneys at Law. “It is, in fact, prohibited based on the Sharia principle. However, there is a type of fostering that is allowed under UAE law and that is Federal Law No. 1 of 2012, which relates to the custody of children of unknown parentage.” Participating in the fostering programme is only open to local families who fulfil specific criteria set out by the law, and expats may not foster Emirati children.
Generally, an adopted child is both given the adoptive parents’ family name and granted inheritance under the forced heirship laws of the state. However, children cannot be adopted in this way in the UAE in accordance with the principles of Sharia, according to Hamade. Under Federal Law No. 1 of 2012, they can be looked after or taken care of by a custodian family in context of the Islamic principle of fostering orphans and children of unknown parentage. Though the law uses terms such as ‘adoption’ and ‘adopted child’, it is formulated in line with Sharia law and Emirati customs, and clearly lays out the legal, social, moral, and financial responsibilities and qualifying criteria for parents fostering children.
How Does It Work?
However, legal experts say there are options for expats looking to adopt in the UAE. “The advice that we give to clients who wish to adopt is to adopt outside the UAE and bring in their children with their documents, proving that they are the children of their parents, and no issues will [ever] be raised in regard to these children,” says Hamade.
Family lawyers advise UAE-based couples looking to adopt a child to work with legal and adoption professionals in order to figure out which type of adoption would work best for them and complete the rigorous adoption process overseas – including the very crucial home study. Following the extensive process, they are then advised to gather and attest the relevant documents and make necessary preparations to bring the child home.
The final step is to register the adoption and apply for the child’s residence in the UAE, after which they can be considered as parents of the child. Faraz Salat, legal consultant at Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultancy, briefly outlines the process. In Dubai, a couple that has adopted a child outside the UAE must do the following.
- Approach the Dubai Humanitarian Cases Department, which is administered by the Dubai General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.
- Present the adoption documents obtained overseas for the child when making an application for the child’s residency.
The Dubai Humanitarian Cases Department will then assess the obtained adoption documents and determine whether or not to grant UAE residency to the child and allow the parents to legally identify as the parents of the child.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional legal advice, opinion, or otherwise, and should never be relied upon for specific legal advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of legal experts and practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Gaggler.